As long as I can remember I have wanted to do a split. According to my mom I could when I was a child, but I am not quite as flexible anymore. Though I've exercised for years, I just recently started incorporating stretching into my life regularly. To cut to the chase, this post is all about my flexibility journey, the importance of stretching, the benefits, how it has improved my life, and so on
The main reason I started stretching regularly is because I wanted to achieve my splits. The main reason I wanted to achieve my splits is because I picked up pole dancing in April, and a lot of pole routines involve spits, and I didn't want to do a modified faux split in class; I wanted to do the real thing. I also wanted to be able to show off during the improv round of the routine(s). While my motive may have been superficial, it motivated me to start stretching.
Though I started stretching soley for splits, my views quickly changed, and my motive for stretching transformed into me wanting to do something to keep my body limber, mobile, and healthy. I don't know what I expected in preparation for splits stretching, but when I began, I learned that warming up your body for splits is an entire process that involves stretching your calves, thighs, hips, etc.. That being said, the majority of splits stretching doesn't involve splitting at all. I also learned through these stretches that most of my body was tight, tense, and not nearly as flexible as it could be.
One of the best ways to prepare for splits is through hip stretches as your hips are responsible for the range of motion that allows your legs to go into a split. At first I started stretching my hips as I thought it would bring me closer to achieving my splits, but then I quickly discovered that stretching my hips was essential to functioning my best everyday. Whether you're doing an intense workout or walking around the grocery store, you are using your hips. They're essential to moving your legs, and it's important to stretch them regularly as they can get tight from sitting in an office chair, driving, etc..
I'm still stretching to increase my overall flexibility, but the main reason I stretch now is for the complete benefits. For one, stretching is relaxing. Deep stretching is best done after a workout when your body is warm, and it works best when it's accompanied by breathing. Before I go into a stretch, I take a deep breath in and breathe out as I sink into the stretch. This technique detracts from the discomfort of stretching and helps with focusing. Taking a slow deep breath in and slowly breathing out can also make room for deeper, longer, stretching. Keeping your muscles limber can also result in less pain after exercise. Stretching is also great for circulation which is essential to overall function.
Since I've started stretching, I feel a million times better mentally and physically. I'm more flexible for one, I'm able to focus better, I feel less stressed, and I feel more confident. Seeing progress encourages me to continue stretching, and knowing that I'm doing something great for my body that is improving my physical and mental function feels amazing. Stretching itself is a workout, so I'm not only seeing results in my flexibility but my physique as well.
I'm no expert or health professional, but I do have a stretching/workout playlist that I'd love to share with you if you're interested! The stretching videos are centered around stretches for splits, but they're great for overall flexibility whether you're working towards your splits or not. The workout(s) on this playlist are centered around dance including weight-free workouts, ballet workouts, etc. I update it when I find new videos I enjoy or want to try, so be sure to check back at it from time to time!
Whether you are as limber as spaghetti or as tight as skinny jeans, I hope this post/my stretching playlist will aid you in your flexibility journey.
Thank you for reading,
R'Nelle CyRe' Collins